WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) Is Vermont a viable place to start and sustain businesses?
Vermont is open for business. That's been the mantra from state officials. But is Vermont really an easy place to start out? And what's to keep a business from leaving the state if they become successful? Our Olivia Lyons talked with one local company about why they chose to stay.
Vermont is a small state. But five years ago, it was the perfect place for DealerPolicy to plant roots.
"We didn't really know if we were going to be able to scale it here in the beginning," said Jeffrey Mongeon, the president of DealerPolicy.
The company creates software to analyze auto insurance to make sure someone buying a car is getting the best policy for them. When the business began five years ago, it had just 14 people. Now, there are 186 employees. Economic development money from the state helped them get off the ground. Because Vermont Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein says while Vermont is a workable environment, there are challenges.
"Our smallness is a blessing and a curse because where other markets may have large pillar industries, we have few of them," Goldstein said.
She says 57 percent of all Vermont businesses have one to four employees. While working for a small business has benefits, Vermont's lack of corporate business makes it harder for younger people starting out.
"We want to create the opportunities for young people to develop a career and raise a family, but if they're stunted in their own job, it's really difficult to come up with an answer to that other than we should embrace the normal ecosystem of business and entrepreneurial success," Goldstein said.
Mongeon says they've embraced new hires just out of college and given them opportunities to grow.
"We've been able to work with our best employees and work them through the company and create different rungs of promotions and different career paths that we didn't even see six months ago," he said.
DealerPolicy has now expanded to 13 states. But why keep their home base in the Green Mountains?
"We are Vermonters and we do want to stay in Vermont," Mongeon said. "And yes, sometimes that takes an extra effort and sometimes you ask yourself, why am I doing this in Vermont? But, I think we got past that and now it's like, how much can we grow here? How much can we grow there and what's best for the customer? What's best for the company?"
Their latest expansion out of state is finding a spot to monitor clients out West. Since their employees have to work when dealerships are open, they found time zones can be an issue.